Addictive Behaviors Study by Indiana College

Doctors doing a study

Addiction is any substance, activity, object, or behavior that an individual diverts any and all attention to, to the risk of their own safety or another’s. Addictions can damage an individual’s mind, body, and social environment. People can become addicted to anything. Physical addictions to chemicals like alcohol and heroin damage an individual’s brain and body. Psychological addictions to activities like gambling, sex, work, running, or eating disorders can have similar damages. It is believed by some professionals that there exists a connection between physical addictions and psychological dependences. These professionals believe that by doing these activities the brain produces beta-endorphins, which signal pleasure or euphoria, which the individual continues to try to replicate by redoing specific activities. This is similar in the sense that by, taking heroin for example, an individual consumes opioids that increase pleasure and euphoria in the brain. If a person continues this type of behavior long enough they enter a cycle of binging and crashing. As such, professionals believe that the two types of addictions should not be separated into two broad categories when treatment procedures are introduced, rather they should be treated similarly involving both addiction treatment and psychological treatment. Even after a treatment is successfully completed a recovering addict can still have the cravings for drugs, alcohol, or a specific physical activity.

Common Characteristics

Obsession is the most notably popular characteristics of addiction. Individuals that become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or a physical activity become completely consumed by it, to the point where nothing else matters. Addicts seek out or engage in this addictive behavior even though it is dangerous. Their addiction causes them physical harm and in most cases significant social problems with those they interact with. Addicts go through periods of binge and crash episodes where they continue to abuse a drug or activity. They continuously try to get that feeling or high, while finding it difficult or impossible to stop. When they do finally stop, they enter a period of withdrawal. Here the addict’s body and brain are telling them they need more. In cases of harder drugs like heroin, the addict can experience severe pain and anxiety. Addicts have no control over their actions when they become addicted. They also hide or deny that there is a problem. Addiction causes severe depression and anxiety. They feel secluded and isolated from everyone else. When they lose control, they also lose self-esteem.

Causes of Addictive Behaviors

There is no exact understanding of what causes addiction or what the proper treatment for addiction is, but the U.S. government publications came up with at least 43 theories on chemical addiction with more than 15 methods of treatment. Addiction is believed to be caused by a number of things. The environment in which someone grows up in or lives can contribute to addictive behavior. Children of addictions have an increased risk towards addiction than those from non-addictive homes. In some of these cases professionals believe genetics to be a cause of addiction. It is unknown why one individual can try or for recreation smoke marijuana or drink alcohol occasionally without issue, while others develop addictions. Common everyday stresses and anxiety can cause some individuals to overindulge in substances as a way to self-treat their stress, anxiety or depression. This style of consumption can lead to addiction. As a result of the non-unilateral consensus on what causes addiction, professionals are in disagreement on what the “cure” is. It should be noted that there is not a “cure” for addiction, but beneficial treatment programs. Some professions believe in treatment that requires complete abstinence, while others believe in a medicated procedure. The best treatment has been proven to be a system of detoxification, therapy, counseling, and activity. The best treatment centers can treat the addiction and any other co-occurring mental disorder. Addictive behaviors studies are fascinating and slowly shedding light on addiction and possible treatments.

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